Mighty Ducks 1999 draft evaluation

By Kevin Forbes

Five years is a long time. Five years ago, Anaheim was lighting the league
on fire with the impressive duo of Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya. It was the
first year of the Maurice Richard Trophy for top goal scorer, which Selanne
won after tallying 47 goals. Guy Hebert was between the pipes and enjoyed a
career year, Craig Hartsburg was behind the bench and Pierre Gauthier was
the GM and President. Compared to Anaheim’s team now and the fortunes of
those people mentioned, five years has changed a lot.

Five years ago, at the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, the Ducks selected seven players. Five
of them, in typical Pierre Gauthier fashion, were European and three of
those were overagers. Below is a look back and evaluation of how successful that
draft was for Anaheim. The team’s first round pick (15th overall) was part of
a trade to return Oleg Tverdovksy to Anaheim after a three season hiatus in
Phoenix.

The seven picks have gone on to play a total of 563 NHL regular season games
averaging out to just over 80 games per player. However, four of those
prospects have never seen NHL competition and there’s one player who has
played 55 percent of those 563 total games. Below you will find each of Anaheim’s picks and
how they turned out so far. The team in parentheses to the right of each
player’s name is the team the player was originally drafted from.

Jordan Leopold, D – 2nd round, 44th overall (University of Minnesota,
NCAA)
Status: NHL Player
NHL games played: 140

Drafted as a freshman, Leopold’s offensive skills and skating ability are
what attracted the Ducks to him. As time went by, Leopold began to establish
himself as one of the top defensemen in the college system. He captained
Team USA at the World Juniors in 1999-00 and was named to the WCHA Second
All-Star team. However, on September 26, 2000, he was traded to the Calgary
Flames for Andrei Nazarov and a second round selection in 2001 (later traded to
Phoenix for Keith Carney, the pick then went back to Calgary who selected
Andrei Taratukhin).

Leopold, now 23, went on to be a perennial mainstay on
the WCHA’s All-Star Teams and won the Hobey Baker Memorial Award in 2001-02.
He later played in the NHL YoungStars game in 2003 and is currently starring
on the blueline for Calgary during their playoff run. He has developed into
a power play quarterback in only his second season in the NHL and has taken
his game to a whole new level in the playoffs. Anaheim later had to make
deals to acquire offensive ability on the blueline, acquiring players like
Sandis Ozolinsh and Martin Skoula as well as free agent experiments like
Fredrik Olausson. Hindsight is always 20/20.

Niclas Havelid, D – 3rd Round, 83rd overall (Malmo IF, Swedish Elite
League)
Status: NHL Player
NHL games played: 310

According to some, Anaheim was ready to pick Havelid at the 1998 draft, but
decided to hold off to wait and see how he performed in the next season.
When he was drafted, he was a 26-year-old veteran of the Swedish Elite
League and he immediately stepped into the NHL lineup. In his first season,
he played in 50 games. Havelid really broke out in 2003-03, playing in all
82 games and recording 33 points. A slick puck mover on the blueline, the now
31-year-old has struggled with injuries and inconsistency over the years but
is firmly a part of Anaheim’s blueline. He was a smart pick by Anaheim, as
he was able to help the team immediately.

Alexander Chagodayev, C – 4th round, 105th overall (HC Moscow, Russia
2)
Status: NHL Bust
NHL games played: 0

Chagodayev was drafted with the pick acquired from dealing Josef Marha to
the Chicago Blackhawks. A center with decent size, he had two seasons where
he reached double digits in points in the 2nd tier Russian league, the year
he was drafted and the following year. Since then, he has only seen spot
duty on various Russian teams. He’s now 23 and his rights are still owned by
Anaheim, although it is clear that he does not appear to be in their plans
for the future.

Maxim Rybin, LW – 5th round, 141st overall (Spartek Moscow,
Russia)
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL games played: 0

After being drafted, Rybin played two seasons with Sarnia in the
OHL. Despite his impressive play in both years, he returned to Russia where
he continues to play today. Rybin, 22, is quick, talented forward, but he is
also extremely small at 5’9”. Although he remains a prospect at present, he
may never see professional hockey in North America because of his lack of
size.

Jan Sandstrom, D – 6th round, 173rd overall (AIK Solna, Swedish Elite
League)
Status: NHL Bust
NHL games played: 0

Sandstrom was 21 when he was drafted. The plan was for
his impact to be similar to what happened with Havelid, if not as immediate.
It didn’t turn out as expected and he continues to play in the Swedish Elite
League. Sandstrom is now 26 and he plays a defensive-style game for Lulea
HF in Sweden.

Petr Tenkrat, RW – 8th round, 230th overall (Kladno Poldi, Czech
Republic)
Status: NHL Bust
NHL games played: 113
Tenkrat was another over-aged European (in his case, he was 22 on draft
day). He was a sniper brought in to add offense to the team’s second line.
After spending 1999-00 in the Finnish Elite League, Tenkrat did make the
move to the Mighty Ducks lineup where he immediately proved to be a willing
contributor who was always eager to shoot. However, that production tailed
off the following season and he was dealt to Nashville for Patric Kjellberg.
Tenkrat left for Europe the following offseason and hasn’t looked back. His
NHL rights have bumped around since then, from Nashville to Florida to
Columbus to Toronto, where they rest now. Meanwhile, Tenkrat, 26, has seen
time in both Finland and Russia, and has continued to do what he does best,
score goals.

Brian Gornick, LW – 9th round, 258th overall (Air Force Academy,
NCAA)
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL games played: 0
Gornick was the first Air Force Falcon ever drafted and only the second
service academy player drafted. This distinction does have some restrictions
as well, as Gornick has Air Force commitments that he must now serve.
Gornick, now 24, is an impressive 6’5” tall and is determined to make it to
the NHL. He has balanced his commitments to both the Air Force and hockey to
get as far as he has. Gornick played in the AHL with Cincinnati and in the
ECHL with San Diego this season as well as playing as a member of the
Deustschland Cup winning US Selects team. His impressive output with San
Diego this year highlights his skill, which at times was lost when he played
with Cincinnati. His drive and determination could lead him to the
NHL.

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